Giving Voice to the Inner Critic

file_000-4We all have an inner critic, often we have more than one.  Each one may say something different, but it’s the negative self talk and limiting beliefs that you use to define yourself.  Who you are and who you’re not.  It’s the voice that tells you, you’re not good enough.  It tells you, you need to keep working harder and harder, but you’ll never see any recognition or success from your hard work.  Do you see it’s the same scenario that plays itself out over and over again?  It’s the same play, just new actors playing the roles in a new scene, but it’s all the same.  Without understanding it as a voice outside yourself, you buckle down even more only to have it come up again… and again.  It’s exhausting, yet you don’t know what to do.  

First, know that the voice telling you these negative thoughts are not you at your core.  

You are more than the negative self talk.  Think of the child inside.  The joyful child that spun around like an airplane on the front yard… not concerned if someone was going to think you were autistic; ate snow… without a care of how dirty it could be;  drank from a cup your friend just sipped out of… who thinks of germs at that age?  That’s it!  Who thinks of these things at that age?  We are given “baggage” to hold along the way that was never ours to begin with.  Often it’s done with our best interest at heart, even to keep us safe and free from harm, but it’s just one bag being passed on from one to another.

What did you want to be as a child?  Is that who you are now?  Were you given the support and tools to become who you wanted, or who others wanted you to be?  Our current education system is an antiquated model serving an old paradigm that valued the creation of an obedient labor force.  It continues in its attempt to mold minds within a standardized format, limiting both teachers and students creativity.  

Side note:  I see a future in education where individual interests and talents are observed and cultivated, where creativity is valued above all else.      

In the meantime, we all have these bags we were handed.  They were given to us 30, 40, 50 years ago and have become a part of us for so long that we can barely uncover what’s beneath all the baggage.  Without a conscious effort to make a change, most people haven’t upgraded their definition of who they are… unless there is some sort of catastrophic event- an illness, an accident, the death of a close friend or relative.  Life says to you, “we can do this the easy way or the hard way… you decide.”  But do you really want to wait for a catastrophic event to happen in order to live your life?

So, what do you do with all those bags?  Do you silence the inner critic or do you embrace it?  Where do I start?  First, as I said before, realize that the negative self talk is a voice outside of you.  I invite you to embrace the voice and confront her head on, giving her a name and personality.  The steps in this article are straightforward and help you dig deep into who you are and who you are meant to be.  To paraphrase:

  1. Understand the Role of the Inner Critic – What is the purpose of the negative self talk?
  2. Recognize the Voice of the Inner Critic – Learn to distinguish who is talking to you.
  3. Evaluate the Word of the Inner Critic – Is what the inner critic telling me true?
  4. Counter the Inner Critic – Challenge what the inner critic is telling you with a new perspective.
  5. Silence the Inner Critic – Limit the strong hold the inner critic has on you by taking it outside of you.  Use positive affirmations you design for yourself to replace the old ones that were given to you.

Another important step is quieting the mind to allow you to separate from all the should have, could have, would haves that go through your mind.   A good friend and mentor, Rachel Horton White has a guided meditation that works to get at the core of limiting beliefs the inner critic is telling you.

Need more help to recognize the inner critic?  This video by Rachel Horton White expands upon this concept.  I would also recommend reaching out to her personally!

Wishing you love on your own journey,

Ali 🙂

What Our Children Teach Us

file_000-3I probably have half a dozen posts I’ve started that remain unfinished.  I haven’t been able to commit to any one of them.  I’m guessing there will come a time when they will become relevant again and I can pick up with renewed insight and energy around them, but at this time a heightened sense of urgency is pulsing through my veins to write about my experience as a parent.  Moving to Maine was in great part due to the wholesome style of living I wanted to give my children.  The orchard, as I’ve said before, personified every reason I wanted to live here.  Brilliant stars at night free from the lights of a big city, small hometown values, people that are connected to each other and the earth with nature abounding everywhere.  My purpose has focused on my children’s needs above all others.

My story starts with the birth of my first child.  My pregnancy was picture perfect as I basked in the glow of anticipation of a first time mother.  It was the happiest time in my life where I felt in perfect harmony with my body, mind, and spirit.  My son was full term with no indications of distress during the labor; the birth seemed to go well until the point where he was to take his first breath.  He didn’t cry.  I questioned, “Isn’t he supposed to be crying?”  The delivery nurses did what they could to clear his breathing passages, but called in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for support.  He was placed in the NICU where I had no say in his treatment.  He was put on a breathing apparatus the night he was born and within a few hours was taken off because he was screaming.  They figured if he could scream, he could breathe.  After a short stay in the NICU, we were sent home with our son and a bidding of farewell from one of the nurses that went something like, “Good luck with this one!”  I was taken back and a little angry.  How could someone say that?  He just needs his mother, once he’s home with me he’ll be fine.  Well, it wasn’t fine.  He screamed from then on out.  Screamed, mind you, not cry.  He didn’t sleep or nap and neither did I… for the next 9 months.  I brought him to every medical doctor trying to understand what could be wrong, only to have everyone say there wasn’t anything they could find medically wrong with him.  A gastroenterologist said at 11 weeks, that his problems were “behavioral.”  I have a behavioral 11 week old?!  At six months the pediatric cardiologist “diagnosed” him with ADHD.  Teachers have subtly questioned me, making the assumption that I must be doing something that has allowed for a challenging personality.  This has been since birth and it’s a story I have been carrying around with me like a badge of courage.  But I don’t think that story line is my purpose or path and I don’t want it to be.

I have been guided to get off the merry-go-round of action and reaction, to look beyond the behaviors to find the hurt child that is crying out because he feels so deeply and doesn’t understand the big feelings he is experiencing.  In addition, I have to look at the bigger picture to understand how I play a part in all of it.  I believe children come into our life for a reason and have the ability to highlight long buried beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and emotions with the higher purpose of clearing them out, first by bringing them to the surface.  It can be a difficult process, no doubt, but if you pay attention to the signs that are presented, it can be less painful.  The signs become evermore loud and present when we are not in tune with them.  Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  When a situation plays itself out over and over again, it’s a clear sign that the current way of dealing with it isn’t working and needs to change.  I am reminded:

You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you.   

I don’t have all the answers.  I won’t pretend that I do.  And I won’t pretend that I could be a perfect parent that can keep it together all of the time.  But there are resources that are helping me navigate a new path and a new story. Aha! Parenting is one such resource that recently featured an article with tips and advice for anger inducing situations with your child.  Here, one recommendation is to take an adult “time out” to give you time to respond appropriately, rather than instinctively, in combination with a mantra like:

  • “He’s acting out because he needs my help with his big feelings.”
  • “Only love today.”
  • “When my child is at her worst, she needs me at my best.”

Another resource I was guided to and has helped wonderfully (when I remember to use it!) are the steps in 1-2-3 Magic.  Here, you clearly define your expectations and consequences.  The warnings 1-2 and resulting consequence after #3, are purposely short to avoid the draw of dramatic conflict and heightened emotions.

All in all, I believe there are lessons to be learned from our children if we are willing to listen to them and the signs presented to us from our interactions.  Children are meant to enhance our lives and there is nothing greater than experiencing that joy with them!

God Bless,



A Grateful Heart


In times of difficulty, I have found it centering to focus on what I am grateful for, rather than adversity.  I am grateful for the apples we have; nutritious and flavorful.  More of the mid season apples are producing and for that I am grateful.  The people we meet, the conversations and connections we make are my favorite part of the orchard.

Happy people focus on what they have, unhappy people focus on what’s missing.

To combat a woe-is-me mentality, I have been guided to find ways to express a grateful heart and count my blessings.  I continue to see hearts all around and now Farmer B is finding them and pointing them out.  Even in the seemingly darkest of situations, there are things to be grateful for.  People have healed themselves from both emotional and physical pain using gratitude.

There are many benefits of incorporating gratitude into your daily life, from being more attractive to others to reduced stress levels and increased overall happiness.  If you need help getting on the happiness train, fake it til you make it.  It’s an age old trick that actually works!  Read here for more of the science behind forcing a smile and a fun study that proves its effectiveness.

Here are a few ways to express a grateful heart… Give it a try!

  1.  Gratitude Journal. Every night before going to bed, focus on three (3) things to be grateful for.  Even if it is a warm bed, or a pinky finger that doesn’t feel pain, there is something we can each be grateful for.  Focusing on gratitude is calming and centering, a great way to begin a restful sleep.
  1.   Sticky Note Challenge.  Carry a few sticky notes (and the pen!) to leave an anonymous note for someone you feel gratitude towards.  You can also write notes for situations you are thankful for and keep them around the house or in a notebook.
  1.  Handwritten Note. With the change in technology, most people do not send handwritten personalized notes, but when you do they become THAT much more special.  Send a handwritten note to tell someone you love them or just how much you appreciate what they have done.
  1.  Give a Positive Review.  So often a bad experience motivates us to write or verbalize a negative review.  Imagine how you’d feel if someone went out of their way to say how you positively affected their day!  Now go out and do that for someone else.  The feeling is contagious.
  1.  Give Back.  There are many ways to give back and it all comes back to you in one way or another.  A few suggestions include: Donate whether it’s money, time, or unused items, it’s all valuable.  Mentor someone in need, teach a new skill or simply share your experience.  Provide respite for someone who is in need of a break.  Provide companionship for someone who could use some attention and love.  

If you are looking for a little guidance to start bringing gratitude into your life, there are many guides to gratitude journaling.  Here is one that I found highly recommended.  

And finally, thank you to all who have touched my heart!  Each person who has crossed my path, has given me something to learn and grow from and for you I am grateful.

Love and gratitude,

Ali 🙂

Grief work

IMG_0935It hits me in the middle of the night.  The anxiousness, the sleeplessness, and the hollow feeling inside…  I’m grieving. It seems so ironic.  I grew up in cemeteries and later in funeral homes and volunteering for hospice.  I think to myself, friends have recently lost a parent, a spouse, and a cousin; yet here I am grieving the loss of an apple season. It may seem trivial to those who have lost a loved one, but the swimming thoughts that go through my head reveal the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and the depression I am now feeling.

The winter was particularly warm.  We saw bud swell in January followed by a late freeze in April.  I denied any talk of a lack of apples in the spring.  I pushed forward with a CSA.  We are going to have apples!  I was even angry at the mention of there being a lack of apples.  And then, I saw it for myself.  Why me?  Why us?  We work so hard.  We care so much.  We are trying to cultivate healthy food and be good stewards of the earth.  So, the bargaining began… What if I tried harder?  I’ll try harder to manifest my dreams.  What if I shared more?  We can offer free seminars.  What if I helped more?  I’ll help with the farming more.  But it’s come to a head as we try for another week to put together apples for a CSA we already had to cut back on, and as we get calls from people who want organic apples.  People calling from Belfast, Kittery, Boston and even Texas.  People want to pay us, but it’s not for the work and expense of what we’ve already put in.  No, we don’t get paid for that.  We get paid for apples.  Apples that we don’t have right now.  

I am grieving and feeling the bleakness that comes with it.  I knew there would be a year where we would lack apples.  I just thought we’d be in a better place and more prepared for it.  After last year’s abundance, we learned we needed to be able to utilize our whole crop and processing into cider, vinegar, and hard cider has been our goal.  But as we prepare the infrastructure for it, pouring lots of capital into it, my heart is sinking with this year’s devastation from the combined one-two punch.  On top of the warm winter and late spring freeze, the apples that we have are aborting from the stress of the prolonged severe drought.  And again goes the anger.  I am mad at the weather, flooding Louisiana and leaving us in drought.  I skip over the denial and bargaining and go straight for the depression again. How long can we keep going?  

I know the next stage is acceptance, but I’m not sure when that will come.  The only thing I can do right now is accept how I am feeling in the moment, own it and work through it.  That is why I write this post.  Although I doubt you are grieving the loss of an apple season as I am, my hope is that even an untraditional form of loss can be recognized and honored in your own life, giving yourself permission to go through the stages of grief and allow the processing of it.  Grief is work.  One without a timeline.  In my case, I can see there are silver linings, lessons to be learned, and I’m still holding onto the hope that the apples we have will hang in there.  I am working through it and, at the end of the day, I know we will come out stronger on the other side.  

Thank you for your continued support.

With love and care,
Ali 🙂           

Seeing Hearts


FullSizeRender (8)While I haven’t seen a lot of apples early in the season, I have noticed the appearance of hearts in nature showing up for me occurring more frequently in the past few weeks.  The more I saw them, the more I felt it wasn’t just coincidence.  I don’t actually go looking for them, they just seem to appear…  in a paint splatter, a mark on a flower, the shape of a rock, an old balloon that melted on a brick paver, and even a birthmark on my youngest son and the heart shape on our cat’s nose.  Here are a few pictures I have taken.

IMG_0134 FullSizeRender (6) FullSizeRender (7) IMG_0902 IMG_0335

I wondered if others see hearts too, and what it might mean, so I looked it up.  There was no one answer, but the common thread was that seeing hearts means whatever is significant to that individual person.  It might be that the person is going through a tough time in their life and needs the reassurance from a loved one that’s passed on.  It might be a sign to open your heart to an opportunity for new growth- a chance to travel, a new job, a new romantic interest.  The message is really in the eye of the beholder.  One interpretation I found interesting involved raising the collective vibrations around the heart (sorry if I lost some here).  The media focuses heavily on dividing us with fear, but I don’t believe that is the prevalent experience amongst people.  I believe people are inherently good, kind, and loving.  Rather than focusing on the things that divide us in our mind, whether it’s politics, religion, race, country of origin, etc., we can instead focus with our hearts on the things that unify us, love.  It’s been said, when you are looking for an answer to a question, ask from your heart instead of your head to receive an authentic answer.

In terms of the spiritual centers of the body, the heart chakra is the fourth chakra at the center of your chest.  It is located in the middle of the upper three chakras (throat, third eye, and crown) and lower three chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus), balancing and integrating the parts of the body.  It is represented by the color green signifying growth and abundance.  The balanced heart chakra provides forgiveness and abundant self love.  When the heart chakra is out of balance health issues arise in this area: heart disease, high blood pressure, circulation issues, tightness or constriction in the chest or between the shoulders.  To bring balance, one method is to meditate using a heart affirmation for personal growth in this area, such as the video here: Heart Affirmation Meditation.  Another way to balance the heart is the Hawaiian forgiveness prayer, Ho’oponopono.  Yoga also has many poses that work to open the heart center.  

Seeing signs, whether it’s hearts, numbers, or anything else that appears seemingly out of nowhere, is there for everyone.  It’s just a matter of being in tune with them, kind of like when you get a new car and then you notice all the other cars just like yours on the road too.  They were always there, you are now in tune and able to notice them.  For me, I’ve started noticing hearts around my home, so to me it’s giving me a loving reminder that the place I am in is the right path for me.  I wonder who else is seeing signs around them and what significance it has for them?

Blessings to you,
Ali 🙂